In 1620, 102 passengers on the Mayflower ventured to find a new world where they could freely make decisions. They endured a treacherous 66-day passing where many contracted contagious diseases, became malnourished and succumbed to illness. After making landfall near the tip of Cape Cod, Natives took time to teach the Pilgrims how to live in the new land, including the preparation of corn, extraction of sap from trees, capturing fish from the river and how to determine which plants were poisonous. In November of 1621, following the Pilgrim’s first successful corn harvest, Governor William Bradford planned a celebratory feast composed of lobster, seal, swans and deer, and invited a group of their Native American Allies which is in present day known as America’s “first Thanksgiving”.
Thanksgiving, Turkey Day, Day of the Feast, and the list goes on. These are all ways that we may have heard to describe Thanksgiving – but in many people’s eyes, they all describe a day for family and friends to come together over a meal and give thanks for all that they have. Often the holiday is symbolized by Turkey (baked or fried), mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, rolls, corn, pumpkin pie, and the list goes on. While it may not resemble the menu in the 1600’s, the meaning of celebration and togetherness remains the same.
For those who host this American tradition, the holiday can be stressful. Cleaning the house, making the beds, buying the food, preparing the feast, etc.; but many don’t consider the holiday resulting in an emergency. There are many reasons for adequate home coverage – and before your holiday is mashed by a cornucopia of catastrophes, read over the common party mishaps that can be protected by your insurance!
Blazing Good Times
Did you know that Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for home fires? That it is. And the second busiest day? Thanksgiving Eve. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there were an estimated 2,400 residential building fires on Thanksgiving Day every year between 2014 and 2016. As a result of these fires, there were 5 deaths, 25 injuries, and $19 million in property loss (gulp). This means that you are 2.3 times more likely to hear of or experience a fire in a residential building on Thanksgiving versus ANY other day of the year.
The biggest culprit? We’ll give you a hint, it is hooked up to a tank of explosive gas and leaves your turkey skin with the most delicious form of crisp you can imagine! Yep, you’ve got it right. A turkey fryer. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there has been $8 million in property damage and 672 injuries caused by turkey-fryer related incidents over the past 17 years.
Don’t worry, we’ve got some tips to feast on that will keep you out of hot water (or hot oil) this year:
- Make sure your bird is 100% thawed before you cook it! Failure to do so leads to melting frozen particles that boil and cause the hot oil to overflow.
- The smaller the fowl, the better. 8-10 pounds is an ideal weight for a fried turkey; anything over 12 pounds should be oven-cooked.
- Keep the position of your fryer off decks and out of garages. It should be a safe distance away from any trees or other structures.
- Place the fryer on a level surface and avoid at all costs moving it once it is in position!
- Always ensure at least 2 feet between the tank and the burner when using a propane-fueled fryer.
- When placing the turkey in the oil, make sure the burner is turned off. Once fully lowered in to the hot pot, turn the burner back on.
- Keep children, pets, and other moving hazards away from the fryer at all times.
- ALWAYS keep an ABC or grease-rated fire extinguisher close by. NEVER use water or a garden hose on oil-related fire incidents.
Over the river and through the woods…
Thanksgiving is one of the busiest holidays for travel. In 2012, AAA estimated that nearly 44 million people traveled during the long holiday weekend – 90% of them by car. If you plan on hitting the road to grandmother’s house, make sure that you are prepared:
- Plan your route ahead of time. While many people nowadays rely on the insight of travel nightmares such as Waze, it is still advised to be prepared for any unexpected travel nightmares. Always have 2 possible routes in mind prior to travel, in the event of downed-cellphone reception and areas of spotty coverage.
- Prepare your car for the travel. Check wipers and washer fluids and ensure that all simple maintenance is up to date. Keeping these things on your list of things to-do before you hit the road will help from being stranded on the side of the road.
- Have an emergency kit. Items such as a battery-powered radio, flashlight, blankets, jumper cables, first aid kit, bottled water and paper maps are all items that may come in handy if the unexpected does arise.
- Leave early and avoid risks. Hitting the road early helps to prevent anxiety about arriving late and accommodates for the chance of delays.
- Keep your eyes on the road! Distracted driving is a leading cause of motor vehicle accidents – put the phone down, have a co-pilot if possible, to help with directions, and always keep your eyes on the road.
Gramma got runover… no… poisoned by my turkey?!
While many people are stressing over the appearance of a perfectly cooked turkey, the layout of a formal place-setting, and room in the fridge… they often don’t consider the risk of the responsibility that comes with filling everyone’s bellies. No one wants to be held responsible for the medical bills that come along with food poisoning, especially if it hits over 10 people at once!
That’s right. As if it isn’t stressful enough to prepare your house, make the beds, clean the showers, do the shopping… you now must worry about making sure no one gets sick? As a host, and the chef, for this food-filled holiday, you (or in this case, your homeowner’s general liability policy) can be held responsible for guests who contract food poisoning. This coverage, if adequate, will pay for medical bills, lost wages, and if needed, pain and suffering.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that food-borne diseases affect 48 million Americans each year. That equals 1 in 6! While there are no exact statistics on Thanksgiving poisonings, the CDC does offer some tips for food safety this turkey day:
- Safely thaw your bird. Turkeys should be thawed in refrigerators, in a sink of cold water that is changed every 30 minutes, or in the microwave. They should NEVER be thawed on the counter – leaving your turkey out at room temperature for more than two hours can place it in the danger zone where bacteria can grow rapidly.
- Stuffing the bird can be full of risk? Filling should reach 165*F in the center. Bacteria has the ability to survive in any filling that hasn’t reached 165 degrees; so it’s safer to cook in a casserole dish to make sure it’s thoroughly cooked.
- Safely cook the bird! Your oven should be set at 325 degrees. The completely thawed turkey should be placed breast-side-up in a roasting pan and cooked until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. The temperature measurement should be obtained by inserting a food thermometer into the center of the stuffing and the thickest parts of the breast, thigh and wing joints.
- Don’t leave out the leftovers! The second most common bacterial cause of food poisoning is leftover contamination – get those goods in the fridge as soon as possible!
While this may add to the already fully-engulfed anxiety of having your in-laws snoring in the room next to you, chasing children around your house and having the family dogs swiping the buffet of delicious goods on display… it is our job to make sure our clients are fully protected. It’s easy to minimize any risk of problems on the holiday, and we want to help in any way that we can. Before you open your doors this holiday season, review your policy coverage levels to make sure you’re fully protected; and consider an umbrella policy if you’re concerned about your current limits. We’re available to do a quick review, and help you out in any way we can this holiday season: 888-366-1000 or firstname.lastname@example.org